Most amusing

OK, so Melissa McEwan\’s a little over the top here but she does make a good point.

There are certain things called \”rights\” which are not, or should not be, subject to the tyranny of the majority. In her example whether or not two same sex people can get married to each other is just such a right, not something that should be decided by a democratic vote.

Whether or not we agree on whether that is a specific right is one thing: but the distinction into things which are rights and things which are for the majority to decide for all is correct.

The thing is, looking around me, I see many who will agree with this distinction but not on the dividing line between which is which.

I take it as axiomatic that I own my own body: but the democratic majority tells me that I cannot sell a kidney. I take it that as an adult I can consent to sex with any other consenting adult as I wish. But the democratic majority tells me that a gay S&M orgy (umm, not particularly something I think I would enjoy but as an example) is something that would see be banged up in gaol for years, as has happened to others. I take it as again axiomatic that I own the produce of my own labour: there are any number who will tell me that I do not, from those who would insist that it belongs to the State to those would would insist I must send it to corrupt autocrats in Africa.

Quite how we get everyone lined up on what are indeed rights and what are to be decided by the passing whims of the mob I\’m not sure.

15 comments on “Most amusing

  1. Here’s the test…

    If the Guardian readership approves of something, it’s a right.

    If the Guardian readership doesn’t approve of something, it is forbidden.

    The views of the rest of the population are “the passing whim of the mob”. These are ignored.

    This is what we call ‘democracy’.

  2. Good place to start with ´rights’ is where whatever is gained under that ´right´comes from.

    The right to sex with any consenting adult f.i. doesn´t take away anything from anyone else, the ´right´to equal pay does because the money ultimately has to come from those not benefitting.

    Maybe we need some new words because ´right´conflates too easily with ´correct´ & the legal term ´right of abode´ with the emotional statement ´right to a home´.

  3. Spot on, ukliberty. The state does not have the right to confer rights, all it does is take liberties.

    The basis should be quite clear: “does this interfere with your liberty”? If not, mind your own business and leave me a alone to mind mine. The trouble is that people then make specious arguments that your freedom does interfere with them. “If you smoke you’ll get cancer and that will cost me money, if you stick your todger up another man’s bottom you’ll get aids and that will cost me money”. None of these are certain and it ignores the fact that the state will not allow you to opt out, the state uses oppression to make you be part of the health system.

  4. “The state does not have the right to confer rights”

    I think the phrase you’re reaching for is endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

  5. “None of these are certain”

    Where I do start to part company with others is the idea that putting my life at risk is OK if it mostly turns out that I get lucky and won’t be killed (the argument behind the idea that the state has no right to ban drinking and driving). While I might not be injured, I have suffered actuarial harm.

    I further argue that the primary job of the state (or a higher power, at any rate) is to arbitrate justly between the competing rights of individuals: my right to listen to the music I choose vs. your right to sleep at night.

  6. “The Flying Spaghetti Monster gave us rights? Golly, all that AND tomato sauce.”

    You believe the Creator was the Cookie Monster, I believe the Creator was the inevitability of the laws of physics and mathematics. Either way, the rights are axiomatic.

  7. What makes you think you own your body?
    Throughout history there would be a fair chance that you woulde be given a spear or a rifle and told to fight.
    You try self harm and see what happens.
    At best you rent your body in exchange for taxes and conformity.

  8. “The state does not have the right to confer rights, all it does is take liberties.”

    For some reason this has conjured up an image of Peggy Mitchell as a Libertarian, suggesting that the state is taking bleedin’ liberties and that Phil is going to bleedin’ well sort it aaaht.

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